Sadly, we again find ourselves monitoring the export of live sheep, cattle and goats by sea to Kuwait – the expected total is approximately 49 000 lives that will endure this voyage. Not all of them will survive it. Another shipment causing suffering and death to the animals, who may be handled and slaughtered inhumanely at their destination.

The exporters are the usual companies – Al Mawashi and Livestock Transport and Trading Company PSC (KLTT) fully supported by the SA Government and the Red Meat Industry Forum.

The SA government after spending the taxpayer’s money formulated a set of “Guidelines for the Exportation of Live Animals by Sea”. There are numerous requirements according to these ‘new guidelines’ that the exporters are supposed to adhere to and which are supposed to be enforced by the Government State Veterinary Department.

As is our statutory duty the National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA) attended at the feedlot where these animals are kept for a 2 week quarantine period. The NSPCA inspects the facility, belonging to Page Farming Trust intermittently, as approximately 50 000 sheep are crammed into the lairages.

The evidence found at the feedlot indicates the lack of preparedness and adherence by the exporters to the Government Guidelines despite assurances that they would be. This supports the ongoing concerns expressed by the NSPCA that event the minimum standards in these ’guidelines’ are inadequate and unenforceable.

Inspectors Observed

  • Sheep being fed roughage at the feedlot as the pelleted food has run out. The animals have not been given the minimum of 7 days to adjust to eating pelleted food to prevent malnourishment or even starvation while on board the ship, where this will be the only feed provided.
  • Many sheep with wool up to 100mm long were observed, despite the Government ‘Guidelines’ requirements for wool not to exceed 25mm, because of the severe heat as the animals face the wrath of the hot summer along the journey, especially in the strait of Hormuz.
  • Numerous sheep with dangerous protruding horns which pose a risk for them being trapped between lairage bars and also risk of causing injury to other animals. These horns had not been trimmed as per Government ‘Guidelines.’
  • Many obviously pregnant ewes in the feedlot and an increasing number of new-born lambs as well as many animals who have aborted their young. The Government ‘Guidelines’ were not adhered to and the animals had not been scanned to determine pregnancy.

In addition, the teams of Inspectors on site at the feedlot report compromised animals including lame sheep, sheep with foot rot, pink eye throughout the pens as well as emaciated and moribund sheep.

The Government, State Veterinary Department failed to uphold their ‘Guidelines’, and the Exporter failed to adhere to the ‘Guidelines’ and yet, despite significant animal welfare concerns, we were advised by the exporter, that regardless, loading would commence on Thursday 20 July 2023 onto the Al Messilah vessel.

The situation was so dire that in order to halt the loading until the ‘Guidelines’ were adhered to, the NSPCA applied for an Urgent High Court Interdict in the Grahamstown High Court on Wednesday 19 July 2023. An interim order was granted which stopped the loading of the animals at 6am the following morning. Unfortunately, the Acting Judge presiding over the matter then set aside the interim order on 20 July 2023, finding that the matter was somehow not urgent. Despite these appalling conditions of the animals at the feedlot and a well set out case, the Acting Judge did not hear the merits of the matter and only heard argument on urgency. The loading was then permitted to commence.

Undeterred, and despite enormous challenges, the NSPCA Inspectors continue to monitor the loading at the feedlot and the harbour, doing their utmost to prevent suffering to these animals, withdrawing those who are unfit and compromised. It has taken enormous physical and mental toll on the team of 16 inspectors who have been working 12 hours a day, since the 20 July 2023. Had it not been for the NSPCA Inspectors, compromised animals would have been loaded onto the vessel.

As the loading continues, we still have no confirmation when the ship will depart. “The accommodation, fuel and welfare costs of keeping the Inspectorate team on site are escalating daily. But while these animals are on South African soil, we will not leave them” Marcelle Meredith, Executive Director, NSPCA.

The NSPCA has pending cases against Al Mawashi, however the judicial system is overwhelmed and while waiting for the cases to be heard in the court the suffering of these animals is ongoing. “Enough is enough, this barbarity cannot be allowed to continue.” Marcelle Meredith, Executive Director, NSPCA.

We appeal to the public to support our Campaign to End this Suffering once and for all.

Banking Details
Account Name: SPCA National Council of SA
Bank: Standard Bank
Account No: 220639744
Branch Code: 051001
Swift code for international EFTs: SBZAZAJJ
Reference: EXPORT

— END —

Marcelle Meredith
Executive Director
+27 11 907 3590 / +27 83 212 3465

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